Maggie Louise Callahan of Maggie Louise Confections takes a bite out of traditional chocolates and gives it her own fun, glamorous spin
Maggie Louise Callahan
Who: Couture chocolate brand Maggie Louise Confections, headed by Maggie Louise Callahan. Austin-based, but with global ambitions and a national following – chocolate lovers, of course.
We Love: Swoon-worthy decadent chocolates, especially the whimsical, fun line in the form of lipsticks, lips, hearts, boots, cactus, and bottles of bubbly. These hand-painted chocolates, in both pastels and vivid hues, are inspired by culture, fashion, life’s unforgettable moments and everything the chocolatier loves about Austin. The luxe flagship store on E. 6th Street in Austin, Texas is ultra-Instagrammable.
Lawyer-turned-chocolatier Maggie Louise Callahan’s mother is a fine artist and her father, a lawyer. Growing up in Indianapolis, their home was always filled with art supplies for her sisters and her to use. “I loved reading, nature, creating in the kitchen and all types of art – acrylic painting, jewellery-making, designing clothes, and drawing houses,” says Maggie. Flavourful memories include her grandmother’s lemon cake from Southern Indiana and her mother’s chocolate pecan torte. “Both were delicious recipes and they were always served beautifully. It wasn’t just about the dessert – it was the experience of serving it and enjoying it.” Back in the day, she enjoyed creating dishes in the kitchen and sharing them with others.
In her twenties, the Harvard-graduate focused on her career as a corporate finance lawyer in New York. “I probably did not cook a single thing for the entire decade other than Lean Cuisine microwavable meals,” she admits. Some years later, she got engaged to her now-husband, Kevin Callahan, and lived in Denver. Outside of the frenzied pace of New York, she had extra time. “Much to my husband’s delight, I rediscovered the joy of working in the kitchen, reading about food, creating new dishes, and presentation. I was especially interested in pastry because of its artistry.”
Later, the couple relocated to Austin, for Kevin’s work in technology. At that point, they had an eight-month old daughter, Vivienne. Maggie decided to take the plunge. “I decided to make my passion my full-time career, so I left my legal career and enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu.” Here, she discovered the magic she could create with chocolate. “I obviously knew about it as a delicious treat, but until then, I did not know that it was really an artistic medium that you can shape, colour, and tell stories with.”
As she learned more about the journey of chocolate from bean to deliciousness, Maggie was hooked. “In school, we were taught that if a marshmallow is orange, it should be orange in flavour. But that is just one way of doing things.” The culinary world, explains Maggie, can be very rigid. “I wanted to do things my way. Bright colours, fun shapes, and clever story-telling is the antithesis of traditional French chocolates; I wanted our chocolates to be fun and surprising.”
That’s why, in 2013, she set out to change people’s perception of chocolate with her company, Maggie Louise Confections. Her chocolates don’t quite look like what you’re used to: The details and the colours used sets these haute couture creations apart. Imaginative shapes and edible art – all hand-painted in happy colours – capture your eyes and taste buds, seducing you over to the rich, chocolatey side. Oil-based coloured cocoa butter in virtually any shade that you can dream of – or refer to Pantone’s colour palette, if you run out of bright ideas – and a CAD “style library” of an assortment of shapes lend themselves to chocolate replicas of takeout coffee cups, sushi, cocktail glasses, flowers, leaves, avocado, and toast, among others.
Maggie also received a lot of positive press when MLC was included in ‘Oprah’s Favorite Things’ in 2014, which led to projects for other companies – Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, and Jimmy Choo to HBO, Netflix, and Amazon – spanning fashion, entertainment, corporate, and non-profit worlds. The most eye-catching gourmet confections by Maggie are the lipsticks stacks and lips in luscious shades. “Our clients love beauty and fashion, so I wanted our chocolates to reflect and celebrate these elements. A lipstick was the next obvious step. It’s an iconic shape that represents so much: Beauty, empowerment, and femininity,” she explains.
Interiors of the Maggie Louise Confections boutique
Craving for custom delights? Choose your favourite shapes from the style library and get them custom designed for a minimum order of $2,500 (USD). The brand is available at Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus stores across the US. “Shipping chocolate is a delicate process, so we currently only ship within the US. We would love for our products to be available in other countries, someday,” says the chocolatier.